I have just finished reading the dark and beautifully moving thriller Obsessed by Ted Dekker. The story unfolds in two times and in two locations that are inexorably linked by love, tragedy, and pure sacrifice. It begins in Los Angeles in 1973. Stephen Friedman is a 31 year old realtor who is making his way through his usual day-in, day-out routine. Things change when he learns of a connection to an old Jewish widow who recently died by the name of Rachel Spritzer. Stephen was born during World War II and grew up as an orphan, never having known his parents. It seems that Rachel was his mother and had devoted her life to searching for him with all that she had, yet she never succeeded in finding her boy who had lived for years within 30 miles of her home.
The story then takes us back to a work camp of female Jewish prisoners taken by the Nazis. Women who did not go through Auschwitz, who could be used as slaves for the German war machine, came to this camp, Toruń. A camp ruled with a ruthless and iron fist by the Nazi SS commandant Gerhard Braun. Gerhard viewed the Jews as vermin and lived to build his power by raising their hopes ever so slightly before snatching it away. Ruth and Martha found each other on the train to Toruń and bonded together. We learned that each of them was pregnant. A condition that normally would have gotten them hung. A German work camp would not allow hope and life to infiltrate its walls. Yet the love, strength, and spirit of these two women allowed them to survive and ultimately to give birth to their two children. Ruth gave birth to Ester and Martha to David (who was renamed Stephen). Gerhard decided to kill Martha, but Ruth stepped up and took her place. Gerhard's son Roth viewed this substitution as the moment his father's power had been taken from him. A moment that fueled the rest of his life to take back what had been stolen from his father and from him.
On one hand, the plot takes us on an obsessive search as Roth and Stephen go after a priceless biblical treasure that Martha and Ruth had taken from the Nazis back in the work camp. However, the true search from Roth's viewpoint is a very clever and diabolical search to restore his father's power and finish the job that he should have during the war. For Stephen, the true obsession is to find out about his mother Rachel and the role she played during the war in that camp at Toruń. But more than this, Stephen's main obsession is to find love and fulfill his destiny. It matters not whether this costs him every penny he owns or his own life. It is all about love. An absolutely wonderful story that kept me focussed and thinking from start to end.